Localising the SDGs: Local governments, associations and networks meet to improve Local and Regional Reports

Localising the SDGs: Local governments, associations and networks meet to improve Local and Regional Reports

On February 12th and 14th, during UCLG’s 2019 Retreat, UCLG’s regional sections and committees, local and regional governments, and members of the Global taskforce participated in two workshops to enhance collective impact of monitoring and reporting on the localization of SDGs from the perspective of local and regional governments. The Retreat was the opportunity to collectively reflect upon the progress made, take stock of ongoing experiments, share lessons learned and lay the groundwork towards the HLPF Summit and the UCLG World Congress.

The workshops built on the inspiring experiences of the ongoing preparation of Barcelona’s Voluntary Local Review, the lessons learned from the roll-out of the dashboard of local indicators by the Flemish association of cities and towns (VVSG), the legacy of the Guangzhou Awards and other reporting at national level, by the Spanish federation of municipalities and provinces (FEMP), at international level by the network of regions for sustainable development (nrg4SD) and the report of Local and regional governments to the HLPF, facilitated by UCLG on behalf of the GTF.

Tuesday’s workshop invited participants to reflect upon three main questions, namely how to make the most of reporting outcomes, how to coordinate our methodology and how to move towards impact-assessment reporting.

Participants identified reporting to be a particularly useful tool for advocacy work that also serves to activate decentralized cooperation action within networks. In Europe, building on the collective push for a territorial approach to SDG localization, the CCRE-CEMR is involved in the preparation of Regional Sustainable Development Report to the HLPF. In Latin America, national associations will promote the findings of the annual reports as well as the findings of the forthcoming GOLD V Regional Chapter to develop key policy recommendations. Participants, such Cités Unies France and the South African Local Government Association, highlighted that actions to be taken in order to unlock the potential of reporting could be directed towards increasing its usefulness for mayors by adopting a more “problem-solving” narrative. This would allow to trigger partnership opportunities and improve public accountability also towards citizens.

In terms of methodology and moving towards impact-assessment reporting, participants observed that monitoring and reporting enabled members to be better informed about initiatives taking place in their territories and pointed at the importance of improving information exchange mechanisms to coordinate data collection methodologies and maximize synergies. While acknowledging the usefulness of SDG indicators, all participants emphasized the need develop indicators that tell the story of their local contexts. Participants share first lessons-learned and preliminary experiences in developing indicators that are relevant to local governments and empower local stakeholders.

Building on the results of this workshop, on Thursday the conversation was directed towards the preparation of the Third Local and Regional Governments report Towards the Localization of the SDGs to be presented to the HLPF in July 2019.

Encouraged by the results of the previous report, GTF members will be more involved in working together for the next report. The first part will be dedicated to an assessment of VNRs and the evolution of institutional frameworks. The second part will follow the thematic review. As key co-leaders, with ICLEI, of chapter on climate action, the C40 emphasized the opportunity to address cities and regions commitment to climate (SDG 13) and the interrelations with the different SDGs under assessment. As per the New Urban Agenda, the commitment of cities and regions to Paris Agreement is an opportunity to accelerate sustainable progress towards Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

The key takeaway of the session is that all members will work to promote a territorial analysis of the challenges and progress made in the SDG localization; namely, local and regional governments contribution in a coherent approach to leaving no one and no place behind in the achievement of quality education (SDG 4) of peace, justice and strong institutions at all levels (SDG 16), of reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and decent jobs and economic growth (SDG 8).